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Wednesday, June 28, 2006  

Didn't Know You Had It? Introductions to the Bible

In this series of posts, we're exploring various modules that you likely already have in your Accordance library, but with which you may not be familiar. Today, I want to look at several Introductions to the Bible.

Introductions to the Bible are typically works which give information about the authorship, historical circumstances, literary characteristics, and central themes of each biblical book. There are several of these works currently available in Accordance, and depending on the packages you've bought, you may even have a few of them.

Let's start with the Introductory Level of the Library CD-ROM. One of the modules included with this low-cost package is the Bible Study Guide by J.W. McGarvey. This is a little book which gives a brief synopsis of each book of the Bible, along with review questions and appendices containing chronological outlines of Israel's history, the life of Christ, Paul's journeys, etc. This book looks to be written at about an adult Sunday School level, and it certainly doesn't dig very deep. But it does give a good, basic roadmap for understanding each book of the Bible. If you're reading a passage in, say, Habakkuk, and you want some idea of what exactly is going on it that book, the Bible Study Guide is a great place to turn.

A much more thorough introduction, though limited in scope to the books of the New Testament, is included in the Standard Level of the Library CD-ROM. It was written by the respected Dutch scholar Louis Berkhof, and so the name of the module is Berkhof-NT Intro. Depth is certainly not an issue with this NT Introduction. For each book you'll find an overview of its contents along with discussions of its authorship, the occasion of its writing, its distinctive features, its intended recipients, and its canonical significance. There are also broader discussions of the "synoptic problem," the "epistolary form," the number of the gospels recognized by the early church, etc. If you own the Standard Level, be sure to check out this excellent resource.

In addition to the Library CD-ROM, there are also some excellent introductions included in the various Zondervan CD-ROMs. The Zondervan Personal Growth Bible Study Suite , a $49 add-on package which contains a number of helpful study aids, includes A General Introduction to the Bible by David Ewert. As its name implies, this book gives introductory information about the Bible as a whole, rather than about each individual book it contains. Bible Introduction, as the module is called, explores the formation of the canon, the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, ancient versions, textual issues, the history of the Bible's translation into other languages, etc.

Also included in the Zondervan Personal Growth Suite is Understanding the Bible by John Stott. This is more of a practical introduction to the Bible. It explores the Bible's purpose, its central message, its authority, how it should be interpreted, and how it should be used.

Though not yet released, an upcoming Zondervan CD-ROM will include the Introduction to the Old Testament by Dillard and Longman, and the Introduction to the New Testament by Carson and Moo. Like Berkhof's NT Intro, these works examine each book of the Bible in detail. And unlike Berkhof, these newer works benefit from more recent scholarship and deal with more current issues.

All of these modules will be found in the General Tools menu of the Resource palette. In my own setup, I've created a folder labeled "Introduction" which contains all of these resources. If you own one of the packages mentioned in this post, be sure to take advantage of these modules.

I'm looking forward to the new modules that are coming out. Any chance you'll pull back the curtain a little so those of us who have been waiting and saving can see what's coming? :)

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